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Ex-Clerical chief for Friends global arm

Friends Life has appointed former Clerical Medical chief executive John Van Der Wielen as managing director of its international arm.

Van Der Wielen will join at the end of the year, reporting directly to chief executive Andy Briggs, and become part of the group’s executive committee.

He left Clerical Medical in February 2010 after a restructure following the merger of the insurance arms of HBOS and Lloyds. He joins from ANZ Banking Corporation, where he was managing director, wealth, based in Sydney, Australia.

Van Der Wielen will have responsibility for all of the group’s international businesses, including Friends Provident International, fpb AG FPI’s German distribution partner Lombard and AmLife in Malaysia.

Briggs says: “John is a high calibre executive with the key skills and experience to drive the international business forward. He brings with him tremendous knowledge of running international businesses. This will help enable us to meet our financial targets in this area.”

Syndaxi Chartered Financial Planner managing director Robert Reid says: “I expect Van Der Wielen will bring his fresh way of thinking and push for international expansion. He and the chief executive Andy Briggs have worked together before, which is never a bad thing.”

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Apple: a stellar technology story

By Ali Unwin, head of technology sector research

Apple recently announced the highest-ever recorded quarterly net profit ($18bn), with the sale of 74.4 million iPhones helping the company deliver $74.6bn of revenue for the quarter ending December 2014. These sales were largely driven by strong demand for the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Highlights included Chinese iPhone sales doubling year-on-year and unit growth of 44% in the US — supposedly a well-penetrated market. Apple ended the quarter with $178bn in cash on its balance sheet, having generated a staggering $30bn in free cash flow during the quarter.

At Neptune, we have been long-term believers in the Apple story, and continue to hold the stock in a number of our portfolios based on the company’s long-term growth prospects. This is predicated on our belief that Apple has proved thus far that it can — unusually for a consumer electronics company — maintain high margins for a sustained period of time, even as adoption of new technology slows down and competitors produce similar-specification products.

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